When I was a child I was desperate to be able to draw well. While a friend of mine could concoct fantastic creations, I was stuck with stick men. I tried for years upon years to improve my artistic talent, and it just never really happened. Eventually I took the sensible route and left my ridiculously talented friend to his drawings, while I focused on writing the stories to go alongside the artwork. So when I realised that Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter involved a fair bit of drawing, I could feel the childhood horrors returning. Luckily for those of you who, like me, can’t draw anything more impressive than a stick insect, Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter doesn’t rely on drawing as much as perhaps it would have liked.
Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter has already drawn (no pun intended) some parallels to Little Big Planet and I can see why in a way. Unfortunately it’s a much weaker interpretation of Little Big Planet and for the most part it’s an insult to the LBP name to suggest such a link. Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter really doesn’t have the imagination for it.
Playing the game is very simple with a series of platforming levels to be traversed in a very linear fashion. Movement is conducted via the nunchuk with a simple tap of A to jump. That’s pretty much it as ‘killing’ any enemies simply involves bouncing on their head: all very generic platformerish I know.
The real twist is where drawing comes into things. At first this is quite fun. Upon clicking on a nearby sign with the Wiimote, the screen changes to a basic drawing screen with a palette of different colours and options. For the lazier gamer (or those who truly can’t draw), there are a few template options to choose from to have a predefined image come up. As I’ve already mentioned, I really can’t draw but I do know how to draw a straight line or basic shapes. However this was much easier said than done with the Wiimote! It was so easy to misalign something simply because of the sensitivity of the Wiimote. At times I found myself trying to rest my arm against the armrest of my sofa simply to keep my arm steady for long enough! Wondering in case it was just me, I tested out the drawing component on my young cousins (9 and 7, both avid Wii and DS gamers). It wasn’t long before tantrums broke out and I decided to separate them from the Wiimote for fear of a terrible accident. One of them mentioned having played the first game on the DS and preferring it because it was easier to draw things with a stylus. She’ll be a reviewer at that rate I reckon, because she’s certainly right! The Wiimote just felt too sensitive to be able to draw anything very accurately, which brought me back to drawing stick things or sticking to the ready made templates.
Drawing is also used to form temporary platforms. Some of these are just solid lines to help you get higher up while others are a little more complex. Red lines react to gravity and gradually float downwards as well as do a few odd things. Green lines form bouncy trampolines which make them useful for jumping on to get to much higher areas. There are a variety of puzzles that use each line type which work quite well but are ultimately as average as the rest of the platforming adventure.
Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter did have some moments of greatness. At the end of the first thematic area, there is a sort of boss fight against a huge monkey. Everything about it reminded me of a much simpler Donkey Kong. It was a nice homage though. The problem is the greatness seems to be too few and too far between.
Simply put, Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter is completely average. It does nothing particularly badly but nor does it do anything particularly well either. It’s a great concept but it’s just not used well enough. The drawing elements feel tacked on and pointless a lot of the time, and with even children getting frustrated by the drawing mechanisms, it’s disappointing. With the likes of Max and the Magic Marker coming soon for Wiiware, if you are desperate for physics based drawing title, it may well be worth waiting to see how that turns out first. For a cheap family platforming fix, Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter is worth a look but at full price there are so many better family platformers out there, such as Super Mario Galaxy or Lego Star Wars.
Hi-Score – Cool concept.
Lo-Score – Really very, very average.
Final Score – 5 out of 10